Corruption

Riggs National subject of investigation

Riggs National Corp., the parent of Riggs Bank, disclosed Tuesday that both the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia and the Department of Justice are conducting an investigation into the bank holding company.

Based on a subpoena issued in the matter, Riggs said it believes the probe involves accounts at the bank associated with former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, accounts associated with Equatorial Guinea, compliance with the Bank Secrecy Act and anti-money laundering rules, as well as “actions of various former and current employees of the company.”

Also Tuesday, Riggs said it lost $10 million in the third quarter as its costs for legal and other investigative efforts increased. The Washington-based bank said it spent $20.3 million related to the probes in the quarter. Riggs earned $139,000 in the same period last year.

In a quarterly filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Riggs said it has been attempting to cooperate with the investigation, and has provided documents and materials in connection with the probe.

Among other scrutiny involving the Washington-based company, investigators have disclosed that Riggs helped Pinochet hide millions of dollars in assets from international prosecutors and U.S. regulators.

The company is working to be acquired by Pittsburgh-based PNC Financial Group Inc. in a cash and stock deal valued at nearly $780 million. PNC has said it plans to close the Riggs acquisition in the first quarter of next year, but the investigations could threaten that schedule.

Before Riggs’ income report, company shares rose 15 cents to close at $20.99 on the Nasdaq Stock Market. The shares are down from a 52-week high of $24.20.

Associated Press, Forbes.com, November 9, 2004

Categories: Corruption, Odious Debts

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